Ordering printed ribbons should not be that hard but the one thing I’ve learned about the promotional products industry is that ordering printed items is not as easy as one would think. So below is the basics for ordering printed ribbons.
When ordering printed ribbons, the most common type is a satin ribbon. The most common widths are 3/8″, 5/8″, 7/8″, and 1 1/2″. Ribbon is typically spooled on rolls of 100 yards (at least for widths of 1 1/2″ or less). We usually recommend at least a 5/8″ width as 3/8″ is bit narrow and the details in art and copy are more likely to fill in. The ribbon is a basic polyester ribbon that typically has a woven (finished) edge and is either smooth and silky on one side of the ribbon or on both sides of the ribbon. Satin on one side only is typically called “Single Face Satin Ribbon” or “Single Faced Satin Ribbon”. If you do a search online you will see that there is no consistency in the name. The other option is “Double Face Satin Ribbon” or “Double Faced Satin Ribbon”. This means both sides of the ribbon have a nice smooth silky feel. Double Faced as you might expect comes at a premium. A company or organization that is especially image conscious may opt for double faced satin ribbon. Both options only have printing on one side of the ribbons. Sometimes a customer will think double face is printed on both sides but this is not the case.
Lastly for this chapter – The most common print method for ribbons is hot stamp. Hot stamp uses foil for printing. Foils can be shiny/metallic and foils can also be matte. A few tings o keep in mind with hot stamp is that PMS/pantone colors cannot be matched. Also hot stamp is best for relatively basic logos. Very complicated logos may not print as well with hot stamp. The way a hot stamp machine works is the hot plate plate presses down on the foil paper that then leaves an impression on the ribbon. When the plate lifts up, some of the foil may not lift cleanly from the ribbon and this can cause some fill in or loss of detail. If you have lots of small text, it is better to remove the text or opt for a wider ribbon and enlarge the wording as much as possible. This will print a lot better. We highly recommend ordering at least a 5/8″ ribbon and whenever possible reduce the amount of small text. Less is more when printing on ribbons!